So, this evening I was reading Keith Windschuttle's article in the current issue of Quadrant: Why Australia Is Not A Racist Country.|
And if I were having less success at being amused by it, I'd be absolutely outraged.
His argument is not only that Australia is not racist now (his assertion of a happy, multicultural nation fails to take into account the success of One Nation, such as it was, or the race riots in Cronulla, but then he seems to be very good at selective attentiveness), it never was. While a critical reading of the article by anyone interested will, of course, provide many examples of why he sucks, and unless you care enough to read the article itself you probably won't care for an exhaustive breakdown written by me, there are a couple of particularly good examples I can't resist.
1) He cites as a reason for the non-racist nature of Australia society the fact that... Rudyard Kipling was popular.
Apparently in his world there was no racist content in Kipling.
Note that I think very highly of Kipling, and am a huge fan of such of his work as I have read. However:
But despite his dirty 'ide, 'e was white, clear white, inside...
Nooo, that's not racist. The fact that Gunga Din concludes: "Though I've beated you and flayed you, by the livin' gawd that made you, you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din." does not mean there is no racist content. (I may have the variant spelling and punctuation wrong, I'm quoting from memory.)
2) Where there is clear evidence of popular racist sentiment, he dismisses it; e.g. when referring to the strong concern of the governments dismantling the White Australia Policy that incautiously fast progress on that matter would cause them to lose office by provoking racist outcry by the public, he says that this fear was simply, "in [his] opinion, unwarranted."
3) "After the early gold rushes, the Chinese were largely excluded by the organised labour movement from the traditional skilled trades, as well as other unionised occupations such as shearing and wharf labouring. Nonetheless, they found their own economic roles. They came to dominate market gardening and eventually had an effective monopoly, growing no less than 75 per cent of the vegetables in the whole country. This led them to become the principal hawkers of vegetables and to control about one fifth of Australia's fruit trade. Chinese also found ready employment in the hospitality industry, especially as cooks. Half the cooks in Australian hotels in the late nineteenth century were Chinese. In the 1880s they dominated the low-cost furniture manufacturing industry, leaving the high-quality end of the market to European tradesmen."
Seriously, to me that reads as an argument in favour of the notion of widespread racism in Australia. Discuss.
4) Windschuttle is a windbag, I suspect a racist, certainly a revisionist (worst of all), and something of an idiot, but he's also a hilarious elitist; more than once in the article he uses the phrase "the lower orders"; what he totally, totally means is, "the lower classes". (But of course, Australia is supposed to be a classless society. The obvious joke about how of course Australians have no class is hereby acknowledged.) Because of course, only shabby proletarians are racist, the intelligentsia could never be so crude.
He's so bourgeois it's wonderful.
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